Friday, September 30, 2011

Literally Speaking?

One of the traits that most of the bloggers I follow know about me is that frequently, when I comment, I get more than a bit oh, long-winded, shall we say? Yeah, go ahead and say it cause it's true, it really is.

But there's sort of a reason behind that.

Sometimes, I could kick myself when I do that because I might be dealing with being brain dead here trying to think of a topic to write about or a story to tell and then, I read someone else's post, which changes my train o thought and opens up a mini-gusher of a well and I can't seem to stop myself.

I have no job to write about in my posts -haven't had one of those for oh, the past almost nine years now -so sometimes that limits (in my mind anyway) what I could kind of, sort of, write about I guess. I can write about jobs I've had at times in the past but unfortunately, trying to remember word-for-word the really good stories I used to remember, that I thought I would never ever forget too, can be like pulling hen's teeth!

Sometimes I think well, if I'd had a career consisting of something like Physicians & Surgeons Jobs, I'd really have a plethora of things to write about, wouldn't I? Well, maybe, maybe not there too cause I'd probably slip up and break that HIPPA Privacy ruling or something by tossing in information that would thus identify the patient and we wouldn't want that to happen, now would we?

Well, we don't need to worry about that though because I don't know diddly-squat about that stuff and we're all much better off from that too.

But one thing I can and often do try to write about are some of the things my two little grandkids -who live here with me, remember -do and today was one of those days when there were some good comments coming from both of them.

For openers, today was Picture Day at school for them so they were each supposed to take the form sent home about a week or two ago which Mandy was to fill out and return showing how many lovely photos she was going to want to purchase (sight unseen too) of the little darlings all decked out, shining brightly those two little stars that they are, ya know.

And of course, last night, wouldn't you just know it but Mandy could not locate those doggone forms no where, no way, no how! Seems they had apparently moved to a different state of disarray within the house -something that here, is quite easy for things like that to do -develop legs of their own and get up and move to who knows where!

So, after she pretty much had torn the dining room and parts of the living room and kitchen too apart, doing a search and destroy mission, Mandy gave up and remembered she could go online and order the pics, plus pay for them then too and not have to worry then after all about sending the form in to school this morning with the kids.

Of course, this was fine with Kurtis because he had no clue about what picture day means to start with, much less that you had to have a form signed, sealed, paid for and delivered to the powers that be to have his picture taken. Fact of the matter is that he could care less about getting is picture taken at any time and tends as a result to act the total goofball, not trying to pose nicely but rather -well, to waste Mom's money by making some sort of weird face as soon as the shutter snaps.

Maya on the other hand -well, she is generally quite the ham, very much the diva too and she wanted to be dressed as nicely as possible, hair all done up just so (gee, so many memories come to me of sooooo very many days over three decades ago when I went through very similar episodes like that with her aunt, whose every hair had to be just perfectly in place, whose outfit had to be completely coordinated and heaven forbid that she even thought she might be getting a zit that would surely break out into a mountain by the end of the next weekend to come!) Yeah, she was very much like that and Miss Maya very much is like that lovely aunt of hers!

So to Maya, that paper was a necessity so she could have her picture taken today looking her very best! And when she realized that paper wasn't present and accounted for in her backpack this morning, for a brief while, it did look like all Hell was going to break loose!  Eventually though, Mandy did get things explained to her that all had been already taken care of and that Mom had done all of it online -and Maya -who understands a good bit about how people can do lots and lots of things using the internet then finally settled down and trundled off to school, ready to be photographed in all her stunning glory!

Mandy then, trying to be on the safe side with Kurtis, then sent a text message to Kurt's TSS (the aide who works with him all day in school to try to keep him focused and on the straight and narrow) asking Miss Dawn to please try to get him to smile nicely, not one of his normal sillliness poses, ya know. (EGAD! But here again, history, for me is repeating itself because that was always one of the things I worried a whole lot about on picture days a few decades back with my son, Kurt's lovely Uncle, and of whom Kurtis is virtually a clone! In more ways that just this one!)

So Miss Dawn had written back that she would try but to remember that she is merely a TSS not a miracle worker!

And so, a bit later after the picture-taking was all done, Mandy received a text from Miss Dawn saying how she and Kurtis had practiced over and over, the art of presenting a good smile,making for a nice picture of him. And things were going pretty smoothly she thought as they stood in line, waiting for his time in the spotlight of the camera to come, when he turned to her and asked "Can you sit up there with me and we get picture taken together?"

Thankfully, he accepted her explanation that no, he'd be there, sitting by himself but that he would do fine and near as she could tell from her visual vantage point, she thought the smile on his face was one that wouldn't shock the living daylights out of Mandy when she gets the kids picture packets delivered a couple of weeks from now.

Now, fast forward from the picture episode to the supper table tonight. I fixed some baked Tilapia fish fillets -just lightly "kissed" them with a brush of a teensy bit of olive oil mixed with a bit of paprika and baked till they flaked. With that, we had some long grain and wild rice mixed along with baked acorn squash, home grown in my lovely little garden. Can you believe that -fish without mac'n'cheese? In this house? What's this world coming to anyway? And I admit having a lot of trepidation too about fixing those things for supper because fish was the only item on the menu that usually those two kids will eat. Key word here being "usually."

Well, at first they both balked, big time, when they saw what Mandy had put on their plates! Kurtis decided immediately that he doesn't like fish because "it makes my mouth and tongue all hot!" Actually, the reason he made a comment like that was because he's pretty much only accustome to fish that has some kind of coating on it and this, tonight -no coating, no breading involved, ya see! He threw a bit of a hissy fit too about the rice but that I pretty much expected he would do. Maya on the other hand, at the rice with no complaints, no comments but hadn't touched her fish for quite a while until when we asked her why, she said she didn't know it was fish. I'm not sure what she mistook it to be but once she realized it was fish, she just wanted some tartar sauce and in a flash, her fish was gone! We didn't even entertain trying to get either of them to take a taste of the squash cause sometimes, Mandy and I know how to pick our battles, especially with foods, with those two.

But it was quite a struggle to get Kurtis to eat anything tonight as he diddled and dawdled away, pushing the fish and rice around a bit but not putting any of it near his mouth. Then Mandy announced to him that if he didn't eat his supper, he'd not be getting any dessert which of course, resulted in a whole lot of whining and wailing from him.

By this time, I was getting really peeved with him and his refusals so re-ran the bribery thing past him several times about how he would be very hungry later tonight from not eating anything and there would be no peanut-butter bread in its place and most certainly, there would absolutely not be even a teensy bite of ice cream either.

Finally, somehow or other, something in my threats to him must have registered and he thought things over saying well, maybe he could eat as long as he only had to have a couple of bites. I said well, by the looks of what's on your plate, I think you could do it in probably about six or seven bites maybe. So he began then to get one little grain of rice on his spoon and into his mouth it went, counting -silently though -as he did that. I then told him he needed to make those bites count and proceeded to show him that a little bit more on the spoon constituted a spoonful, which then in turn made it what I considered to be "a bite." And that was what I told him "counted" in the eating process.

To which Maya then piped up and said that he couldn't count though because only second graders could do that!

Hmmm. Seems Gram sort of forgot that there are different meanings to the word "count" or "counting" aren't there?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flying By - Before My Eyes!

Something I remembered yesterday - that September 26th was my grandfather's birthday! I hadn't thought of that in a long time but I guess because there were so many things going on around here of late -which reminded me of people from my past -that it was a memory that came to me and stayed on my mind all day yesterday.

Were it possible for him to have lived this long, he would have been 137 years old yesterday! He passed away in March of 1957 -54 years ago -when I was 12 years old and I still miss him, very much, all these many years later. A quiet, very gentle man he was with a soft voice and, as I remarked to Mandy about him, he had very, very little trace of an accent of his native language, Swedish. He loved music, had a beautiful bass voice and I suppose because of how much I loved to hear him sing, to this day, I love hearing a good bass voice! He read -a lot -loved history and gardening and would probably be appalled at my attempts to grow a garden -especially my first ones about 30 years ago which were really dismal failures. This year, he might have thought there was a bit of potential for me to grow a few things -that is before the damned squash bugs came along and sucked the juice out of my yellow squash plants. Oh yes, they did that! But to my credit, we did get quite a number of yellow squash to dine on before that plague came to live in my garden and I also got about 15-18 acorn squash too -although they were a bit on the smallish side they still tasted darned good! By comparison to his gardens when I was a kid, mine is just a tiny drop in the bucket! He grew lots and lots over a much larger area too that I plant but we rarely wanted for most any vegetable that could be grown in the type of climate in this section of Pennsylvania. Corn, green beans, beets, were planted in abundance and when they were ripe, my Mom and Grandmother canned and canned and then, canned some more, for days and days -actually probably for weeks too when you add in all the tomatoes they would put up along with the apples they would go down to Peale and pick to can jar after jar of applesauce! He and his older brother used to have contests to determine which of them could grown the largest potato, along with who could harvest the most potatoes in a season too. And onions! We rarely ever had to buy onions from one year to the next as what he got in one season generally lasted almost up until the onions were ready the next summer!

It was my Grandpa who taught me to love books -and reading -and as a child I spent a whole lot of my time, year-round, with my nose always in some book! One of my favorite bloggers -Rick at In My Own Write (or Stories I Share With Friends) has a passion about reading that is a lot like mine was as a child but as I grew older, too many other things seemed to prevent me from reading near the volume of stuff I used to consume all the time as a kid!  I do still enjoy reading but just don't do it near as often these days. But Rick and I tend to enjoy a lot of the same things in our reading -history! However, my favorites in that category lean more to fictionalized accounts of history whereas he prefers non-fiction. Today, he posted a list he has on with his favorite books, which was interesting to read. One thing that amazed me though was one of his favorite topics is Labor and Labor Unions and he listed a book there that was written by one of my professors at Penn State -who just happened to be one of my favorite instructors too -Dr. Paul Clark! You know I loved learning that because it totally appealed to my love of "small world" kind of things too!

A few of my favorite bloggers have remarked recently that they are celebrating their anniversary of beginning their blog -Skittles, Technobabe and Dave at "Rather Than Working" all began their blogs around this time, five years ago and that's about when I started blogging too. Funny thing though is I can't remember how I found them way back then but I've been following them for quite sometime now -Skittles I found I think around late October or early November that year and though she doesn't post that much these days, she and I are still friends on good old Facebook as is Dave now too. A whole lot of the bloggers I follow -and have followed for anywhere from 3 to almost 5 years -rarely post to their blogs these days but thanks to Facebook, I still keep in contact with them too!

Ah yes, good old Facebook! I play a bit at that place but not a whole lot. Not super active there you see but for me, it's a great place to keep in contact with family, old and newer friends, classmates, bloggers and thanks to a special page that the granddaughter of one of my good friends from high school set up - called "Grassflat Grown" I try to keep people who still live in this area along with a whole lot of folks who have roots back to this little village, a bit connected with things happening around where I still live.

One of the things that is now in place on this facebook page is a place where I try to remember to transcribe obituaries of people from around here to let those who live all around the country know when some one has passed away.

Today, I posted 4 obituaries to that page!  On was the passing of an elderly gentleman who died about 2 weeks ago but I had forgotten to transcribe his obituary then and fortunately, was able to find a copy of it on a local site, but the other three passings were all between this past Thursday to Sunday and all three of those involved someone I had known fairly well too.

One was a lady four years my junior who I knew but not that well but her children and mine were pretty much in the same age ranges and our kids were friends. Another was a lady who was 84 and who I'd known since I was just a little kid and though her children -all seven of 'em -I could remember as little kids, then followed them through their high school and college years but today at her viewing, though I remembered the names of those kids, only one of the seven could I have identified who she was although the boys, I would have known what family they belonged to because they all resemble their late Dad very, very much!

And the third obituary I posted was for a man who I first got to know back in the mid-60s through a guy -also deceased for 23 years now but who had been a very, very good friend of mine from first grade on! I met Don Harter back then when my friend Dennis was beginning to get involved in stock car racing and Don was an excellent auto mechanic. When my ex-husband and I moved back here, Don was probably one of the first people in this region who my ex developed a friendship with and it was actually more through my ex-husband then that I came to know Don and his wife, Pearl, much, much better.

And it was because of that friendship my ex shared with Don that after we divorced, Pearl and Don's home became almost like my kids' home away from home! Those two people loved my kids, would entertain them at their house and often allowed my son to come out there and roam the junkyard Don had there and Clate would "help" Don. Actually, though Clate did no doubt on some occasions "help" Don, it was much more that Don was helping Clate -trying to show him how to grow into a fine young man which Clate is (for the most part) today!

Back when my son was about maybe 10 or 11 years old, he amazed Don in that he could tell Don exactly what kind of junked cars he had parked in that junkyard, where each unit was located -what row, how far down, etc., and often, could even rattle off most of the usable -thus still good -parts were on this or that car too! Quite a feat considering how many cars Don had in that junkyard back then!

I think it would be safe to say too that Don Harter was one person who very few people in this township, if asked, would say they didn't know him, or at the least, didn't know who he was or where his junkyard was!

If you didn't know Don, on first meeting him, he might have seemed to be a bit gruff, sometimes a bit on the brusque side, but once he got to know a person -and they, him -it was just a short time before you learned he was just one very, very decent man! Honest, hard-working, excellent auto mechanic and an avid collector of old, old cars that he had restored over the years! If some one expressed the least bit of interest in antique cars, Don loved to show those units he had lovingly restored and he also too great pleasure and a lot of pride too, frequently driving one of those antiques in many local parades too!

Back in the mid-90s though, Pearl and Don were the victims of a terrible -and very brutal crime. Two men from an adjacent county showed up at their home -which was back well off the beaten path/roadways -cut off their telephone lines and broke into their house where they tied both Pearl and Don up, then proceeded to rob them and also, to beat Don -severely about his face and head!

The man who at that time was the local police officer said when he responded to a call from them for help -after they had somehow managed to free themselves and had gone to a house near their that was actually a camp but they tended to the place in the owner's absence and thus had a key to get in there and use the telephone to call for help -said that when he pulled up in front of Pearl and Don's place, there stood Don, with blood running down his face, but holding a big old shotgun, ready to take aim the best he could under the circumstances, should those two guys return that night! Eventually those two guys were caught and convicted and one of them is now serving a VERY long prison term. Thankfully!

So, yesterday, Mandy and I went to the viewing in the afternoon and my son went there last night. This morning the three of us attended the funeral too. Don's passing -though very difficult to lose a good friend as he was, was also one of those things that was a blessing too now as he had endured two bouts of cancer and it was this second go-round that eventually took him down. His daughter-in-law said that he had suffered a good deal with that dreadful disease this time so they -the family and his widow -were prepared and even, I suppose one could say, at peace with his death now, just to know he was also at peace too!

After we got back home, because there was to be a viewing for the lady who passed away yesterday this afternoon and because I regarded her as a good neighbor and friend and my son liked her very much as well having worked with her when he was still in high school at the local truck stop, plus having been her paperboy for several years before that too, we still had our same clothes on that we'd worn to the funeral when the grandkids returned from school.

As Mandy was getting Kurtis out of the van, he spied Uncle Clayton standing near by his mother's car and asked Mandy, "How's come Uncle Clayton is dressed like a principal?" Only Kurtis would take note of his uncle's clothing -suit, dress shirt and tie -being more than a bit out of the norm! And I'll have to be sure to call Pearl and tell her that line too as I know she'll get a big kick out of hearing what Kurtis had to say today!

But the thing that really amazed me this evening was after I returned home from the viewing and was thinking about that woman and her children -those little kids I remembered them being; those teenagers who were good kids and all of 'em very good students in school too; and those kids -all of whom went to college, graduated and moved on to good jobs away from this region -who in my mind were still those young people until it hit me that oh my, the oldest son is now probably around 60-61 years of age!

How in blazes did that happen anyway? How did they get to be so old, so fast?

Then again, how did I get this old and so damned fast too is something else I'd like to know now too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Travelling in a Labyrinth!

Tonight, I am truly questioning my sense of direction!

One thing I've always been pretty proud of is that I usually have a pretty good sense of direction and, when driving some place where I'm not totally familiar with the lay of the land, even if I do get off base a bit, I can -or have in the past -been able to find my way around and get back on track.

After all, back in the early 80s, my kids and I drove down to D.C. -where I was fairly comfortable getting around the city and the suburbs and one night, after meeting a friend of ours for dinner on the outskirts of Annapolis, we started to head back home -north to PA, ya know -and I missed a turn as we were supposed to be picking up Route 70 on the outskirts of Baltimore but landed, instead, in downtown Baltimore instead! This happened late at night and I realized, by looking around at the area, that the area of Baltimore where we were wasn't exactly where a female with three children ranging in age from about 5 to 14 should be driving at 2 in the morning! But, I found my way to Route 40 and followed that north then which brought me out in Fredrick, MD and from there, I know exactly where I was -on the road back home!

Then, back in 2000, I had gone down to the Philadelphia area -riding down to a family reunion with a cousin I'd never met before but who, at that time was living in State College (which is near to me) so I hitched a ride down with him and had intended to have one of my other cousin's husband drive me into the city the day after the reunion to the bus station there and had planned to come back to State College -where I'd left my car -by bus. However, after the reunion, the ex-wife of yet another cousin had offered to drive me back home in her van so, I figured well, if she wants to do that, why not. Actually the offer was that I would be the one doing the driving. We would use her van to get me back up home and then, she would go on from there to her other home in Latrobe, PA. Sounded like a reasonable plan to me at the time.

However, I found out the next day when she came by the cousin's house where I'd stayed the night and we got ready to get on the road, that she hadn't a clue -nary a one -about how to get from that cousin's house to any route we needed to take to get out of that Philadelphia suburb and on our way to Harrisburg where I was familiar with the routes and would easily be able to find my way home from there.

So, off we went with her saying maybe we take this street then, no, maybe it's this one and so, we wandered around the streets in and out of several suburbs of northern Philadelphia with her trying to figure out what street to take and when and I decided just to look for route numbers that I was familiar with, that I knew if a particular route ran east or west or north to south and then, once I found one that rang a bell with me, I took that route following it in whatever direction it went that took us west after which I then started to watch for any route I recognized that would then take us north. Figuring sooner or later, I would come across a main artery type route that traversed the state -like Route 322 or Rte 81 or 76 or Rte 30. I don't recall now which route I encountered first that took us to a point where it connected with another route I knew, that would in turn eventually take us to the roads that ran near or into Harrisburg and we did make it up to my home. Obviously -because I'm still not roaming around those streets in Harrisburg kind of like the guy in that old song about riding on the MTA with the chorus of "Oh he never returned, no he never returned and his fate is still unlearned...." Yeah, I thought I did pretty good that day manipulating us around to get from Philly to Philipsburg in about 7 hours! (Normal driving time between those two points is actually about 4 to 5 hours -but that's for people who actually know where the hell they are going too, ya know.)

Well tonight, I managed to get myself lost right here in Clearfield County! And boy, did I ever get myself discombobulated too!

Sit tight now and listen my children and you shall hear about the early evening ride of me -no, not Paul Revere!

My son drives tractor trailer for an outfit up on the back side (so to speak) of Curwensville, PA -which is a town about 28-30 miles from where we live and the place where the company he drives for is located is oh, about 12-14 miles from Curwensville. He usually leaves here on Sunday evening about 5-6 p.m. to go to where the trucking company is located southwest (I think is the general direction) from Curwensville -a drive of about 42-44 miles, one way. Someone has to drive him up there on Sunday night to pick up his rig and then, on Fridays, when he finishes up for he week, someone has to go pick him up there too because he and his girlfriend only have one vehicle between the two of them and if she has to work from 2 p.m. to 10 or 4 p.m. to midnight, then he needs a ride either to work or from work on either Sunday night or Friday night.

And tonight was one of those days when his girlfriend was working from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and he was due to get in at the barn about 6:30 p.m. so I had offered to come pick him up.

Now, I've done this drive up and back twice before tonight and the first time I drove him up to work, I got a bit lost on the way home -coming back from Ansonville (approximately where the trucking company's barn is) to Curwensville. A couple weeks ago when I took him to work, I had no problem at all coming home.

Wish I could say the same about my drive up there tonight to pick him up cause it sure wasn't that way!

I left my house a little later than I had originally planned as I should have been on the way to get him by 5:30 but it was almost 6 p.m. by the time I started out however, I had no problems at all, of course, getting from home to Curwensville. And in Curwensville, I turned left at the light -don't know the street name but I am familiar enough with how to get to this place that I knew exactly where to turn left there. So I drove out that road a short piece until I came to Rte 969 where I was to take a right and drive up the mountain, along the northern end of Curwensville Lake (or Dam as some folks still call it) until I got near the top of that mountain and then I was to turn left on Rte 729, go over the bridge there that crosses the Susquehanna (West Branch of it in our county) and head up to Ansonville from there.

I got to that point too with no problem whatsoever. By that time, I was roughly 6 -8 miles from where the trucking company is located. I was also feeling a bit cocky too because I knew that while back on Interstate 80, my son's boss's son had passed me on the Interstate, heading home too but when I came out on the ByPass around Clearfield, I had passed him on the hill there so was ahead of him then by oh, about 2-3 miles then when I made that turn onto Rte 729 and headed up the really skinny, really windy road there to the barn's location.

I remembered too that abou a mile or 2 from the barn I would come to a turn in the road -left, if I remembered correctly, and that would take me then right to the barn.

Well I don't know exactly what I did wrong, where I made a mis-turn, but I made one and what should have been the last 6-8 miles of my journey ended up being about 40 miles of driving around, trying to get my bearings, looking for anyone outside as darkness was falling (rapidly too, I might add) that maybe I could stop and ask them for directions to get me back on track again.

After about 35-40 minutes of driving around, obviously lost, I came across the little town of Glen Hope and spied a little corner gas station/convenience store out there in the middle of nowhere so because I'm a female and unlike most men who when they get lost, refuse to ask for directions, I have no problem doing that!

So I go into this convenience store and ask the clerk how to get from there to the trucking company's place of business -off Rte 729 -which by the way was right there at that intersection -Rte 729, that is.

Now, if I were a bit more familiar with the lay of the land up in that neck of the county, I would have had a better sense of where I was, where I needed to go to get where I needed to be because I would have known then which little villages abut each other for openers. And too, if the state had direction markers that were more indicative of what little towns -and somewhat larger ones -were in which direction, I could have found my way with little to no problem then too.

But no, that isn't the way the state does those things with their direction signs!

So I had to go inside and ask the clerk for directions only to find out he had not a clue how to get to Ansonville from there! He did however point me in the direction of Irvona which is on Rte 53 and Rte 53 you see intersects at that point in Glen Hope with Rte 729 -which I knew was the Rte I wanted to be on but I just didn't know then and there, which direction I needed to go on Rte 729! If one of the direction signs at that intersection of 729 and 53 had pointed in a particular direction and said Curwensville on it, I would have known then I needed to go in the opposite direction from that but the guy didn't have clue one as to where I should go. Nor did either of the two men now waiting in line in the store behind me as I inquired about driving directions.

So, I left, taking Rte 53 to Irvona (which is the mailing address by the way of the trucking company -go figure) and I stopped there at a Dollar General Store where I inquired of the clerk (a middle aged woman) and a customer (a younger woman) as to how to get to the trucking company I was trying to find.

The customer there right away gave me instructions to go back to Glen Hope, turn left there at the intersection of Rte 53 and 729 and proceed from there about 6 miles or so and I would come to the trucking company.

All that extra roaming around added 40 miles to a trip that should have been about 42 miles but ended up being a little over 80 miles on my odometer and instead of taking me about 45-50 minutes to get there, took me almost 2 hours because those roads, where I was wandering, trying to find my way, are narrow, steep, hills, in deep forested lands, plus it was raining off and on thus hindering my vision and speed as well as dark then by that time too!

I did -obviously though -eventually make my way to pick up my son and made it back home then with no problems albeit it with a total then of 120 miles on my odometer by the time I got home!

I wanted to show you a map of the area where I was majorly lost but apparently you can't save a map from Bing Maps -although I sure thought you could do that -and can't post it on here anyway! Isn't that just special though too?

But one thing is for sure, whenever anyone tells me in the future that where I live is really out in the boondocks of Clearfield County, I might agree with them but only to a certain degree. I would most definitely tell them that the region up beyond Curwensville, and between there and Irvona, is even more out in the boondocks that the area here where I live is!

Shoot, I think I'd have been less lost if I'd taken a wrong turn going out of Karthaus, up through Pottersdale and to Sinnemahoning or Driftwood than I was up in Glen Hope!

Now, if someone knows how to print out a map from Bing Maps that I can then carry with me and that shows all these little, itty-bitty villages up in that neck of the woods so I'd then have a little bit of a clue as to where I am when I'm off wandering around up there, I'd sure appreciate that!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kids and Kittens!!!

What can one possibly say about kids -small children type that is -and kittens that hasn't probably already been said many, many times before?

Both are generally really cute with an occasional one who is, shall we say "interesting" and leave it go at that.

Not that it's taken me over 40 years to figure this out but this morning, as I was trying to first sweep the grubby mess that was our kitchen floor but also then trying to mop it after the sweeping was done that kids are messy little creatures, for sure. But then too, so are some adults who live in this house too so I can't blame all the stuff I swept up -and then, mopped up -on just the kids.

But one thing for sure is that work has apparently the same effect on cats, particularly on kittens, as it has on kids.

It fascinates them and they can watch it go on for hours!

Well, sort of watch it anyway, in the case of kittens. They tend to want to lend a helping paw in the work aspect. But that paw, being thrust with every push of the broom to try to capture the broom -or whatever Pearl seemed bent on doing while I was sweeping, one thing for sure was she wasn't being Grammie's best little helper!

Not. At. All!

Her thrusts and parry routine with the broom wouldn't have been all that bad except that she also began to play a little game akin to kids jumping into a pile of freshly raked leaves and waiting to be hauled off to a burn pile or stuffed into a big garbage bag and hauled away. Her game though consisted of pouncing on the growing pile of dust and dirt I was accumulating from my sweeping.

The last straw for me was when she decided now was a darned ideal time to either jump right smack dab into the center of that pile or to take a bit of a running start and then, put on the brakes suddenly when almost to the pile so as to skid into it and send it flying off into several directions.

No, cleaning here with Pearl underfoot is not something I particularly care to do -especially if I want to get the floor swept and mopped up to appear at least semi-clean by late this afternoon.

That's about all the longer the "clean" state of my kitchen floor will last too -late this afternoon -because you can bet your bottom dollar when two certain small children return home from a hard day of studying at school, the first thing they will have on their agenda will be "Let's see how quickly we can get Gram's clean kitchen floor totally messed up!"

Apologies and a Rude Awakening!

If you follow my blog at all -or have for anytime I guess I should say -you know that one of my traits -and certainly not one of my finer ones too -is that I tend to be quite long-winded.

It's something that's been a part of me for many, many moons and considering I will soon turn another year over and be saying "in all my 67 years on the planet" I've had more than enough time to hone the long-windedness or better yet, perhaps practice honing it down a bit. Better yet, a lot!

I've also mentioned on numerous occasions in the past that I do have a lot of blogs that I follow too. I have them all on my reader and that's the only way I can deal with trying to keep current with the number of blogs I do try to follow.

However, in the blog following department I have another really bad habit too in that when I do comment, all to often I have a tendency by the time I've finished writing my comment I realize I have just written what could have gone for a complete post of my own then -but on someone else's space -on their "dime" as it were!

I'm trying to curb that aspect of my blogging life. Occasionally, I meet with mediocre success in the curbing the comments department but damn it all, if my favorite bloggers would write such great posts that really grab me and remind me of this or that or some other crazy thing, or some subject that really sparks my ire and I go on a rant -like I did on blogger friend Rick the other day about employment or lack thereof -well, maybe I'd be able to not let fly with those really long-winded comments, ya know!

But please, don't take that as a cue for you folks on my followings list to start writing about things of little to no interest to me or others, or to writing shorter posts, or to writing really crappy stuff either. (Not that I think for a minute that you people could or would ever do anything like that though and for that, I am really quite thankful!)

Tonight though, in going down the line on my reader I discovered something that really did bother me about blogs I follow.

This is something that I was of the impression once someone had laid claim to a particular name for a blog, that name was theirs to keep, to use, forever -whether they wrote one post and never wrote another one for a month or a year or several years later, that blog name still belonged to that person.

But apparently that's not true.

A while back, I saw a post under a blog name that I had followed but the guy whose stuff I used to read had dropped out of sight for a good while. I hadn't taken him off my reader because I know occasionally people do drop off but then, return at a later date however, when I saw a new post by under that fellow's blog title, I was a bit confused because it was all about a big pitch about a car -Infiniti -I believe is the make of car that the writer was going on and on about and that sure didn't sound like the stuff I was accustomed to reading at that guy's place.

Tonight, I came across another posting though, on a blog that I'd followed for quite some time a while back but she had dropped off the blogosphere too. When I saw her blog name up there on my reader, I was really happy and excited to thing she had come back to the blog fold but as I started to read the actual post, I was really disappointed to see her blog has apparently been hacked and someone has now taken it over writing about nothing but -of all things -poker sights!

I suppose there's nothing that can be done to stop things like that from happening but, if there is, and you know about it, how about sharing a bit of that information with me! I'd much rather have a blogger's place lay fallow, unused, unwritten at all, than to see that someone is stealing the other blogger's namesake and using it in a manner that the original blogger would never have abused the site in such a manner!

I know I can easily correct this for me by simply making a little adjustment on my subscription list on my reader but I hate to do that too in the off chance that suppose that blogger tries to return and can he or she then pick up their old blog's name and start writing again? I dunno cause I don't understand the ins and outs and the ways of the blog world all that well I guess. But if they ever would come "back to life" here in blog land, I'd like to be there to read their stuff again, ya know!

At any rate, if there isn't a law or rule or even an unwritten one, about actions like that, there really should be!

Just my little old opinion about some things that kind of, sort of, well yes it actually really does, annoy me!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Terrific Time!

As most of you may know -or have figured out by now -I really enjoy getting together, running into, hearing from old friends! I especially enjoy reunions though and in particular class reunions. Next year, my high school graduating class with be celebrating our 50th year since graduation and next week, several of my old classmates and I will be getting together to discuss the details -when, where, how, etc. -our class will celebrate this anniversary. And I'm really looking forward to that lunch get-together next week now to open the discussions needed to bring about a really great class reunion for all of the members of my graduating class.

This past weekend, my cousin was back home for the purpose of attending her 50th Class Reunion. She and her husband flew in Thursday morning from the Austin, TX area and Mandy and I had supper that evening with them. I posted about that dinner a few days ago, you may recall. It was so great to have a chance to wine and dine -and do lots and lots of talking then too -with her and her husband -something we rarely are able to do because, of course, the distance between Texas and Pennsylvania and it sure ain't cheap getting from there to here and back again.

But something else happened over this past weekend that was really an outstanding thing for me!

I actually got to attend her class reunion too!

My cousin and I graduated from the same school system -West Branch Area School -but we didn't graduate from the same school. Back then, this particular school system had just been formed and the class of 1960 was the first class to graduate as "Warriors" from West Branch. Back then, the students attended one of two schools in our area. You either attended classes at the Morris Township School or at Cooper Township High School. The school district encompassed five different townships - Cooper, Morris, Graham, Karthaus and West Keating -when it was formed but it took another four years after the jointure -and the district -was formed before the "new" school was built and opened. The first class to attend classes at the new high school was the class of 1964.

Prior to that joining together of these townships, Morris Township and Cooper Township had been big, BIG rivals -in all things athletic, so for those of my cousin's and my generation, the joining together was in name only. We still really didn;t get to know the kids in our class from the other building -or if we did know some of them, we didn't usually have the opportunity to get to know many of them very well. (And yes, there was still a good bit of the old rivalry still going on between the two schools too, which was a bit hindersome for us then too.)

But anyway, when it came time for those kids from my cousin's class to celebrate 50 years since graduation, they opted to have a "joint" reunion -kids from the Morris School as well as kids from the Cooper School -under one roof, together. Actually the class of 1961 had a joint reunion five years ago for their 45th reunion and from what I heard from friends who were part of that class, they'd had a great time at that reunion so decided to do it all over again this year with a really big celebration.

Last Friday evening, they had an informal get-together out in Munson, at a nice little restaurant-bar there -Casanova's -and then, Saturday evening, they planned a nice dinner get-together over in Clearfield at St. Charles Cafe.

Saturday morning though, my cousin Ruth phoned me to inquire if I'd received an e-mail she'd just sent me. I clicked on my e-mail and yep, there it was so opened and read it. In that e-mail she told me how on Friday evening she'd spent a good bit of time talking to one of the guys from the Cooper school who she knew had been a very good friend of mine -both in school and following our graduation -and they got to discussing how much I would have enjoyed it had I gone to their informal gathering and gee, wouldn't it be nice if Jen could come to our dinner event this event. Yeah, that's the way my cuz operates -she's always been looking out for me, ever since we were just little kids, ya know.

So, Pete, the guy from the Cooper Center told my cousin that if I would like to go to the dinner that evening, to let me know and I could attend with him, as his guest! Now wasn't that a nice gesture on his part though?

Well, I talked this over a little with my cousin and said I'd have to check first with Mandy to make sure she didn't have plans for that evening and wasn't counting on me to be here with the grandkids and that was clear, then I said I'd love to attend that reunion. I phoned Mandy -who was at work at our church doing the cleaning stuff there and lucky day for me, she said "You GO Mom and you have a GREAT time!"

And so, I did just that!

I first tried to call Pete of course to let him know I was going to take him up on his offer. Called the motel where I knew he (as well as my cousin and several other out-of-towners for the reunion) was staying. The desk clerk rang his room but there was no answer. However, I was able to leave him a message to call me back. But then I thought, well what if he's out rambling around and doesn't get back to his room in time to call me, so I dug around in my e-mail messages from him and located one in which he'd given me a phone number for him. So I called and his wife answered the phone. (Now I know his wife quite well too but had only seen her once in the past 44 years -same as with Pete. So anyway, I knew there was no problem in calling that number, talking to her, etc.) She gave me Pete's cell phone number and instructions too that in case I didn't get in touch with him by phone, that I should just go over to Clearfield and show up there about 5 p.m. and meet him as he came to the restaurant and go in with him! (Now there's a trusting wife for you, isn't it?)

But anyway, I called his cell phone and was able to connect with him and we then made arrangements that he would come down here and pick me up and take me with him then to the restaurant.

Well, that sounds like all was well then, arrangements made, smooth as glass, right?


I then had to start thinking about what on earth I should wear to that class reunion dinner that night!

And that was a difficult process to deal with, believe you me!

Making decisions is not something that comes easy to me under the best of circumstances but when that decision involves clothing -well, that has the potential for taking not just an hour or so but days on end!  And so it began then with me rooting through my closet, my dresser drawers, in search of some outfit I could pull together that would be appropriate for me to wear. Did I want to get really dressed up, or semi-dressy or casual or really casual? I tried on one outfit after another, each time modeling it for daughter Mandy to get her impression and her opinion. One red (very dressy) top and a long black skirt, Mandy ruled out immediately as being "too Christmassy." Then there was some discussion between us about that skirt but maybe wearing a nice cream colored semi-dressy top with it and that idea -particularly anything involving a cream top. me and food -got shot down by me then too! I know my graceful side very well by this time of my life and I realized that would be inviting disaster for sure as the odds were definitely in favor of some blob of food, probably the kind that would leave a big greasy stain too, would end up at some point in time landing dead-center on the upper front of a blouse/top/sweater of that color ya know! And I really didn't want to risk being seen by people I hadn't seen in 40-50 years as being that much of a slob!

Eventually, I did find something that both Mandy and I felt would be appropriate -a pair of tan-colored dress slacks, a dark brown light-weight but long-sleeved sweater (hey, it was cold here Saturday) and a brown and tan print shirt to wear over the sweater!  Okay, finally got that ordeal squared away and all I had to do then was watch and wait for Pete to show up in his vehicle and pick me up.

He'd told me he would stop in front of my house and honk the horn for me when he got down to my street so I figured that would be no problem. I was watching the traffic go by the house and saw a vehicle approaching -one that I didn't recognize -so I figured that was him. It went by the house and I figured he was turning the vehicle around and waited then for him to pull up out front but he didn't appear. So I walked out on the sidewalk, looking down the street to see if I could see him driving up to my place and it was then that I saw this pickup truck stopped in front of my neighbor two doors over's house. Hmmm. Could that be Pete? I then walked up to the road and glanced over and when I did, I could see that the truck had out-of-state tags on it so I knew then that was Pete! And true to form for him, as well as it having been over 45 years too since he'd last stopped by my house to pick me up, it was Pete -at the wrong house, tooting the horn!

I motioned to him -by sticking my right arm out with my thumb raised to indicate I was a hitch-hiker -and when he saw that, I could see him raising his arm and hitting himself up side his forehead -saying "Duh!"

But that gave us something to share a lot of chuckles over then as we drove over to Clearfield for the dinner!

And that's how things came about for me that I then got to attend the 50th Class Reunion for the West Branch Area High School -Morris Township and Cooper Township Centers!

And that's also how I came to have one really terrific evening to spend amongst many, many old friends -and my dear cousin and her husband too! Just a little extra quality time with Ruth and Bernie there ya know!

The meal was quite good -buffets are not necessarily the easiest things to put together and serve and keep the food good but this meal was quite nice and very tasty!

But of course, the absolute best thing about the entire evening was the opportunity to meet and greet so many people with whom I had shared a considerable portion of my younger life with in school! Many of the folks there I've know about as long as I've known a goodly number of the kids from my own graduating class -meaning that I grew up with several of them! But hadn't seen most of them since their graduation!

One guy who I was super anxious to see though was Eddy -who had shared an apartment for a couple of years in Virginia with Pete -back in the days when I lived in Maryland and shared an apartment with 2-3 other young women. Pete and Eddy had frequently been my transportation to and from Virginia/Maryland to Pennsylvania and then back to our respective apartments again on many, many weekends between 1964 and 1966! And on the weekends that the guys didn't come up home -or I didn't come up home for a weekend (hitching a ride with two other guys originally from up this way), odds were that you would have found Pete and Eddy at the apartment in Maryland I shared with my roomies and enjoying a big BYOB type of party with our friends!

Ah yes, those were the good old days, for sure! Such fun, such great times we did have together then!

I know in a post a couple days ago I did tell you a good bit about things that Pete, Eddy and my roommates did back in the day but I hadn't gone into detail in that post about the reunion itself -or about the issues I had just trying to get ready to go to that dinner and such.

And I hadn't shown you any pictures either of the reunion itself and that's what I wanted to do here today.

Here then is my cousin, Ruth Ann and her great husband, Bernie! So wonderful to have had the ability to spend some time -again -with them!
And here's my old, old friend Pete too -in a pose that really brings back a LOT of memories for me! Just so nice to see him again too and realize that he still has the same silly sense of humor that he had back then!
Here below are pictures of the people who shared the table where we enjoyed a very nice meal and lots of fun conversation together too!

 This is Mike and Sally. Funny thing here -Mike is retired from his position as the Cooper-Morris Township Police Chief and I joke that he actually knows my son much better than he knows me! But one of their daughters used to be my daughter Mandy's boss at a restaurant in State College where she worked and at that same time, Mike and Sally's son was one of the big bosses too at the truckstop where I worked back then as well!
 These two lovely ladies -both named "Helen" were good friends in school and still are good friends today as well!
And here's Pat and Mary -who got to know quite well back in the summer of 2002 when I was working in Harrisburg at an internship position during the day and evenings, I worked part-time as a sales rep for the Hecht Company at the Camp Hill Mall. They live in the Camp Hill area and often would come over to the store just to check up on me and make sure I was okay, see how things were going at the internship and such! Pat's a retired PA State Trooper and is responsible for putting together a mailing list that he keeps as up-to-date as possible of his classmates from 1961 plus, he keeps a running e-mail dialogue going with his classmates along with several others who like to stay in the loop as to what's happening with people from our past -like me, ya know!

And finally, here's the photo of the entire group -all kids who graduated from our school district in 1961! There's Bar, Mary, Doreen, Gracie, Marilyn, Eddy, Bunny,  Norma, Margie, Martha, Donna, Connie, Ruth Pat, Mike Bill, Phil, Fred and upteen others -whose faces I can't identify right now as I look at this pic on my screen here. Too small, ya know in this view! Plus, a lot of the kids from the Morris school I don't recognize today either. Maybe someone else got a picture of the group that is clearer, bigger and has identification of everyone there available too and will share it with Pat, who in turn, will share it with everyone -including me -and I can post that then!

But there you have it!

How I spent my night, Saturday, September 17, 2011 -in the company of some of the best friends an old girl could have ever know! Well, next to my own class, of course, that is!

My sage advice here to anyone who has an opportunity to attend a class reunion -especially one covering so many years as this one did -regardless of whether you really loved your high school days and classmates or if you absolutely think of them and those years as wasted, futile, friendless even perhaps, forget about that idea in your mind and go to your school reunion!

People do change -a lot -over the years and there are bound to be at least one or two folks you remember in good memories and can enjoy seeing once again. Even if it's only for that one or two people, to be able to get together and get reacquainted again, it's well worth it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Events!!!

Lots of things on my mind these days but at least, one is nearing an end and that's the Cookbook stuff. Last Friday, I got an e-mail from our customer service rep that included a proof of our recipes and instructions as to how to go about getting all those recipes -all 586 of 'em -proofed and returned to her by -YESTERDAY!

Now if that wasn't a job and a half, I don't know what is!

First off, I had to go down the list of women who are actual members -active, I should say, would be the key word here -of our Women's Group and from that, find someone who has a computer, internet access and would be willing to help out with the proofing process. That's not an easy thing to do, let me tell you, as although, technically, all the women of our church are considered to be members of this group, very few of them ever attend our meetings and of those who do, the overwhelming majority of us are over 60! And only a tiny handful of that group have computers and internet access too, so it took a bit of searching but eventually, I located two women who said that they would help out.

One is my good friend, down the street from me, who I really hated to ask because although I know they have a computer and have internet access too, I also know she hates to mess with the computer! But, being the loyal member she is of our group and also, the good friend she's been to me for all of our lives, she said she would help out. And the other lady I located is a retired school teacher who said, sure, she'd do that for us because -get this -she loves to edit and proofread things!  (My good friend and neighbor is a retired R.N. too so I figured both of these people would do a great job on proofing these files because they are both accustomed -from their career work -to being very detail oriented and boy, they really had their hands full with this task!

I started working on the corrections, alternating between the two proofreaders via the phone, about 11 a.m. yesterday and FINALLY, at 11:30 p.m. last night -just as Jay Leno was coming on the air -I finished up making all the corrections to our recipe files! Definitely, this was far from a walk-in-the-park, easy task! Other than taking a bit of time away from the computer to cook and then, eat, supper and a short break too around 8 p.m. to do a quick scan of the daily newspaper, I was at the computer all the rest of the time, working my bony fingers down to nubbies, ya know!

But anyway, the task is done and the corrections have been uploaded to the publisher so now, just sit back and wait to learn how much extra those darned corrections are going to add on to our publisher's bill! They give you 10 corrections for free, plus any corrections needed to the names of the recipes because they were bleeding over to the contributor's name or incorrectly listed or whatever, are also freebies too. But even so, with 9 pages of corrections that I had to send, and with roughly about 20 recipes per page, at the cost of $4.00 per correction, our bill for this project is going to rise drastically with those corrections!

Oh well, water under the bridge now ya know and what's done is done. Not much we can do about it but suck it up and deal with it -and hope to heck that we get the kind of response I think we'll get once we receive our cookbooks and are able to start selling 'em.

Right now, I'm in a bit of a funk -nothing drastic, but a bit of weather-related issues I have -like the gray days, rain and such, that frequently wreaks havoc with my body causing all kinds of aches and pains and the other age-old problem I've always had, always will too, by the looks of things and that's having way more month all the time than I do funds in the checking account! No way to get that fixed so again, suck it up and work with it the best way possible.

This weekend coming up now -two things going on then! One is a birthday party for my son's girlfriend's younger son -Ryan -who will be three years old and she's having a birthday party for him over at Burger King -or is it MickyD's -will have to double check the invitation on that. And the other is that there will be a Rabies Clinic here on Saturday too at our Firehall where I can take Sammy up there, get him the vaccine for a mere $10 instead of otherwise having to take him to the Vet and paying out the old yazoo ya know. Before I do that though, I also have to remember to get his license renewed too but thankfully, I can get that done up at the local grocery store in Kylertown so that won't require a whole lot of extra running around then.

Now, on a not-so-great-note, the lady who is currently the President of our Women's group at church informed me last week that she has to step down now as President because a week from today, she has to report to the big hospital down in Danville to have heart surgery! Sheesh! What news that is to have someone tell you that and then too, inform you that effective now, I am being elevated from Vice-President of the group to President! A post I definitely did not want -still don't want it -but am now being forced into taking over those reins. And frankly, I don't have the knowledge/talent/ability -whatever -to perform in that capacity! Trust me, I don't! I have no clue what all other side programs we are running at the moment, don't really have the knowledge to take over the task of seeing to their being taken care of and I don't have enough brain cells left to use my imagination these days to think up new and interesting projects that the group can take on too! I think I'm still operating with a lot of the braindead cells leftover from the chemo last year! My memory is crapola for openers and I am way too disorganized to be trusted with this much responsibility! Plus, my embroidery is way behind my own schedule there thanks to the two months of time spent working on getting recipes and entering them and also, running around the area trying to sell a bit of advertising to help pay for our publishing costs too! I've been working for the past week now on embroidering a pair of kitchen towels -two of 'em -and so far, I haven't completed one towel yet whereas normally, I would have had both towels finished up in about 3 days time! Some days, when I do find a few minutes of free time to sit down and embroider, I find I can't get much accomplished then simply because I can't stay awake in my chair! And that's bad for me since I normally am up until all hours of the night, messing with either needle crafts or computer stuff! Both have now been very neglected of late!

And also, among the upcoming things I have to work into my lovely schedule is another birthday celebration next month for the granddaughter, Miss Maya, who will be 8-years-old on October 18th!

Mandy has begun working on the preparations for that and last night, she and I tried to present our plan for Maya's birthday party to her and explain what we want to do for this event.

We're going to have her party at the church social room so that way, we will have lots and lots of room and can then invite ALL the kids in Maya's class from school, as well as the kids from Sunday School too. And then too, there are also the adults who get added into this configuration -Aunt Carrie, cousin Alex, Aunt Kathy and cousin Carlea, Uncle Clayton and Elizabeth AND of course, little Ryan, plus Maya's "other parents (well, she spends enough time with them, may as well call 'em that) -Jenn-Jenn and Nick-Nick and their three teenagers too! And who else? Who knows!! But I'm sure I'm overlooking someone in that mix!

Last week, Jenn-Jenn informed us that on her last visit to their house, Maya had given Jenn a list of things she wants for her birthday. Get this now. The first thing on her list is rather strange for a kid her age to want but, this is Maya, and yes, Maya can at some times be more than a little bit strange ya know. But anyway, she wants a "sleep mask!"  Like this one!

Yes, that is the little princess sleeping away, wearing an extra sleep mask that Jenn-Jenn has at her house and which she insists she absolutely needs now, to have one here at home to wear when she goes to bed!

But then too, considering I think buying her one of these sleep masks may prove to be the ideal gift, one that won't break the piggy bank, ya know, unlike the rest of her requests sure as hell will do! Her second item on that list is an IPod and after that, a Wii and who knows now what else she has on that lovely list! The child definitely has strong opinions as to what she wants and it better be in he right color, size, etc., too!

But the other thing about her birthday and how Mandy wants to get this thing set up, is she is planning to have an "Ice Cream Fest" -with lots of ice cream and bunches of different toppings that each kid can pick and choose -and then make -their very own sundae! That, plus with the amount of space available in our social room, we can set up for lots of great fun games too -Musical Chairs, Limbo -to name two that went over really well at our Rally Day two weeks ago to mark the beginning of a new Sunday School year. Kids and adults too, really seemed to enjoy those things and especially the younger kids, who loved the musical chairs and the Limbo!

But the big thing about our plans for Maya's party concerns gifts from her friends. Because she really has tons and tons of stuff -clothes galore and also, more toys than she really knows what to do with -and Mandy and I really dislike the idea of other kids parents having to go find some little gift for a kid, just because the parents are having a birthday party, etc., and taking into consideration all too often that can really put a big strain on other people's budgets then as well, that we told Maya this year, on her party invitations, there will be instructions for each child attending (and adults too) to each one bring a canned good from their cupboard at home -a canned vegetable or fruit or a dry staple product -whatever -and all those items accumulated then will be given by Maya to the local Food Bank. Mandy and I both like the idea of trying to instill a bit more understanding in Maya (and Kurt too in the process) of giving instead of just expecting to receive all the time!

At supper last night, Mandy tried to explain all this to Maya and we will continue to talk it up too between now and her birthday so hopefully, she will be really excited at the prospect of doing something very helpful to a other people for a change!

I'm sure you'll be hearing more about these plans in the future from me! Just wish us luck that she stays accepting of the idea and finds she likes the feelings that giving does give to most people!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Family, Friends and FUN!

Well, let me just preface this by telling you today -Saturday -was the busiest Saturday I've had in a long, long time. And, what's more, it was filled with family and also friends, lots and lots of old, OLD friends!

Early today, my son and I went to a picnic that was held in honor of a cousin of mine who is running for the office of County Commissioner here! He's a terrific young man and someone I am very -extremely -proud to say he's related to me. His great-grandfather and my Dad were brothers and last night, I convinced my son that some of us -me for sure and hopefully my son as well as daughter, Mandy -would see fit to go to this event with me. Clate was a bit hesitant initially but I told him if I don't show up, I knew his grandmother would have a major hissy fit with me for not being there and I really just didn't want to go by myself. So, anyway, my son decided that okay, he would go with me as long as we weren't going to make it an all afternoon visit there, ya know.

I took my camera with me with the full intention of getting several pictures of other family members there but ended up only getting one picture there today and that one, I had the candidate's mother take this snapshot of me, my son and the candidate all together! (Imagine that! This makes two posts in a row where I'm willing to show a picture of myself in it!)

And there you go -the three of us together! My son, Clate on the left, Paul "Pj" Monella Jr (the candidate) in the center and me!  I'm sure you can see by the picture now why I'm so excited and so proud of Pj and his campaign for county office! But let me tell you this about that young man -he's one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people I've ever known/seen who is running for a political office! And I don't say that lightly or just because he's my cousin but rather because he is what I said there -one smart cookie!

This young fella has been interested -and I DO MEAN very interested, in politics for at least the past 10 years now! He follows the news, reports, reads all kinds of stuff about virtually every issue facing us on all levels -local, state and national -and he has an excellent understanding of those issues too!

A neighbor of mine here asked me back in the spring, shortly before our primary elections, when Pj was campaigning then just to get on the ballot in the November elections if I thought he really had a chance in the elections because of his age. Yes, he is a youngster in the policial world, for sure, as he just turned 18 back in January, just graduated from High School in June and just began his first semester in August at Penn State University too but as I told my neighbor then, if the people Pj talks to while campaigning will forget about his youthfulness and just listen to what he has to say, hear that he is not just some kid with some crazy notion but someone who does have a good solid understanding of the work that needs to be done here in our county -for openers -through the commisioners office, they will see that this young man has a good solid understanding and loads of energy and ability to back that which would make him an excellent choice for this position!

And not just that, but he's just a very nice, polite, extremely smart but also, extremely empathetic and VERY VERY nice young man! The kid of person you'd be pleased to have living on your street kind of person ya know!

In my Dad's family -which is the side through which I am related to Pj -we joke that maybe the political blood that my Dad's one brother had has finally come through again and this time, it's with Pj! You see, my late Uncle Arch -whose daughter is the cousin who came here this weekend from Texas -was very active in county politics when I was growing up and back in the 50s, Uncle Arch served a couple of terms then as one of our County Commissioners. Win, lose or draw though, I'd be willing to bet that somewhere, wherever Uncle Arch's spirit is today, that he's sitting there, looking down at Pj with loads and loads of pride and giving this young man a great big :Thumbs UP" and any other job-well-done kind of signal you can give!

What made me feel especially good too was after my son and I left the picnic, he thanked me for talking him into going to that fund raiser for Pj today! We both came away from there feeling very proud to claim Pj as our cousin and also, to support him in his quest for this office in the election in November!

You go, Pj! Cause your family believes you have every bit of knowledge, interest, ability and energy to fulfill the duties of that particular post! Definitely a breath of really fresh air! (And don't we all need that and then some today on our political scene?)

Now, Saturday morning, I got a phone call from my cousin -the Texas visitor -asking me if I'd read the e-mail she'd sent me. As it turned out at the time, I hadn't seen the e-mail from her then but went to my e-mail, opened it and read it! She was telling me about how last night at the informal gathering of her classmates, she's spent a good deal of time chatting there with a guy from her class but who had attended the same school branch as I had and she knew that he (Pete) and I had been good friends in school and for many years that has passed since then too. And they decided that I should come to their class reunion dinner then this evening and that I could do that, if I wanted to attend, as Pete's guest since his wife hadn't come up from Virginia with him!

Now that idea was definitely very enticing to me, for sure as I know many of the kids from that class, of course, and yes, I love events like that too! But first, I had to check to make sure Mandy didn't have something going on tonight that would mean I'd have to stay home and watch the grandkids. So I phoned her at work, told her what Ruth and Pete had offered and Mandy said "No Problem! You go to that, Mom, and you have a great time there too!"

And so, that's how it all came about that tonight I was in Clearfield at the St. Charles Cafe, in the company of 60 some folks, many whom I hadn't seen for over 50 years now too! And yes, indeed, I did have a really great time, talking to so many old friends, seeing so many very familiar faces and lots of others who I had to cheat and look at their name tags to see who it really was behind that somewhat familiar looking face before me!

My old friend, Pete -my escort for the evening -and I were good friends in school but after we graduated and had been out of school for 2-3 years, we found ourselves each living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He was about due to get discharged from the Army and I was working then at the National Rifle Association in D.C. when he and another former classmate of his, Eddy, who was also just getting out of the service, got an apartment together in Alexandria, Virginia and I was living in a suburb southeast of D.C , in Prince George's county, and thus, we renewed our old school friendship back then. Pete and Eddy became regular visitors at the apartment my roommates and I shared! Parties -sure, there were lots of those, along with many times the guys would come over and my roomies and I would cook dinners for all of us! Pete and my first roommates and I all went together to Ocean City, MD late one Saturday night the end of May in 1964 where the six of us (yes, six people in an old Chevy Impala that Pete had at that time) squished into that car, arriving at the ocean about 7 a.m. and all six of us being totally new to the ocean and salt water and the wind that is also present on a really hot, very sunny day, in which we all stayed out in the sun from just past 7 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. that day when we decided perhaps we'd best think about starting our return drive to our apartments in Virginia and Maryland! Roughly 7 hours straight in that hot sun, with salt water breezes giving us a bit of a wind-burn on top of major sunburns created havoc for the six of us trying to find ways to sit in that car on a three hour drive back home that afternoon and evening!  That sunburn also gave me a really nasty case of sun poisoning then too causing me to go to work the next day but being sent home -actually I was driven home by one of my co-workers in my supervisor's car - and under orders to go see a doctor, who then gave me orders that I could not return to work for at least 2-3 days to give the sunburn a bit of a chance to begin to heal!

It was a pretty painful event but, on the upside, it was probably the first -actually the only -time that I ever had a darned good suntan on my legs though!

Another time, as a joke, when Pete's fiance was down there from PA for a weekend visit with him, she and Pete, along with Eddy and my roommates and I, got a really bright idea for a practical joke to play on some of our mutual friends. We went to the store -drug store, that would be -and purchased some Plaster of Paris and a few other items we figured we would need -gauze bandage stuff and the like -and then, we spent that Saturday afternoon crafting a cast on the leg of one of my roommates! Yep! Molded that baby, nice as can be around her foot and up to her knee and it looked pretty much too like it had been done by some orthopedic doctor somewhere -albeit it on closer inspection maybe a doctor that was oh, shall we say, just a tad inebriated too though! Anyway -cast made, we then set out to call a friend of ours who was at that time a student at the University of Maryland to invite him over to a party we were hosting that night at our apartment. It just so happened that one of my roommates sort of had a bit of a crush on that particular guy too and was slightly miffed at him at the time too because I think he'd stood her up a day or two earlier so he was the person we actually had in mind to prank with this fake cast. That night, Jack -the Terrapin student -showed up and there was the roomie, sitting there with this nifty cast on her leg and he was shocked to see that! I don't remember now exactly what song and dance we gave him about how she had broken her leg or foot or whatever it was we were saying there but we laid it out as a major guilt trip to him, that somehow it was all his fault that she had managed to injure herself, ya see. So there's Jack, feeling all sorry for my roomie and trying to be extra nice to her and out of the blue, Eddy comes up to my roomie and asks her to come dance with him -and it was a nice, really fast rock and roll song that was playing too. So the roommate jumps up and yes, starts dancing away in the middle of our apartment while Jack is sitting there in a state of shock, yelling at her that she shouldn't be doing that with that cast on, that she was going to re-injure her leg and well, for a short period of time, we were really a bit worried that Jack was going to go into cardiac arrest the way he was worrying and yelling at my roomie to please sit down, to stop dancing before she broke another bone and on and on. But when she did sit down and said to him, "This damned cast is just plain getting in my way so I think I'll just take it off" and then, nice as can be she started to pull the cast away from her leg, the look on that guy's face then was well, it was just plain priceless!

Just one of the many silly, but loads of fun at the time, things we did back in the good old days!

Ah, the memories!

And trust me, tonight -seeing Pete -and also Eddy again -after so many years -just brought those times, those days, those fun, games and laughter-filled events flooding back to me!

Because Pete and Eddy were both from up this way, and because eventually they had girlfriends who were from "back home" they generally drove back and forth to PA at least once or twice a month and I knew, if I needed a way up to PA for a weekend, I could usually hitch a ride up and back to D.C. with them -or else, with two other guys also from up in the old home town area too who lived and worked then in D.C. too! So they were my chauffeurs back in those good old days! My Mom knew all four of those guys who became my "drivers" back then and she knew their families too -where they came from ya know. One of the other guys I often rode home with was a guy who had graduated with me from high school and my Mom regarded him as being virtually ready for sainthood! She thought the sun absolutely rose and set on him and a couple of years later, when Mom moved down to D.C. with me, he and his wife then lived just around the corner from our apartment and my best friend from high school also lived in the same apartment development then too so my Mom then became their babysitter for the five years that Mom lived with me there!

John -the guy from my class, worked then for the D.C. Fire Department and eventually retired from there and moved back home to his family homestead here -about 4 miles from my place. To this day, he and his wife and I are still very good friends and you know what? John's still one hell of a great guy -good friend -the best kind of friend to have in your corner then -and now too!

We were all cut pretty much from the same kind of cloth, raised pretty much the same way, had very much the same values then and Pete, Eddy, John and I still share those same values today -about life in general and about old friends and how great it is to still have them around as we age!

Here's hoping all of you have many friends like these folks were then to me and still are today -even though time and distance has kept us apart over these many years, the feelings we shared back then were evident today as we talked and remembered the good old days!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last night, Mandy and I had a great dinner and excellent company to go with our meal as we were treated to a great supper at the Hotel 1921 in Philipsburg, PA by my cousin, Ruth Ann and her husband, Bernie.

Ruth and Bernie live in Austin, Texas but are here in Pennsylvania this weekend so they can attend the 50th class reunion festivities for her high school graduating class! First time, I think Ruth said, that she has been able to attend one of these functions.

The Hotel 1921 is really a very nice, upscale restaurant -something a bit unusual in this vicinity as most of the restaurants around here are more on the restaurant-bar type side -not that the Hotel 1921 doesn't have a bar, as it does -but it's just that this place is much more on the "posh" side of establishments. The building was a hotel -and a very nice one at that -for many, many years then, it was closed down, building was sold to a nursing home who had it revamped into assisted living quarters but then, they closed that down as they built other facilities all in a very close radius here in Philipsburg. The two women who took over the hotel and remodeled the place opened the restaurant for business I believe it was 3 years ago now -either this past January-February or it will be 3 years this coming January-February. I've been there 2-3 times before and always enjoyed the food very much but had never had a really big dinner meal there.

Having the time though to spend visiting over a meal with my cousin and her husband however is the thing that truly made this occasion very, very special. Since she's been living in Texas for oh, probably 35, maybe even 40 years now or very close to that, needless to say, she doesn't make all that many trips back home and I sure have never had the opportunity -nor will I ever most likely unless I should happen to hit the lottery -to go visit them down in Austin so we made the most of the time available to us then last night, for sure!

This then is something you will very rarely see me posting on my blog but the cute little redhead is my cousin Ruth Ann and the much larger old lady is, yes, me! I tease Ruth a lot about her smile but it's that smile of hers that really gets to me as she looks so much like her Dad, especially when she smiles! Her Dad and my Dad were brothers and growing up, I spent a good deal of time at their home -which was my Dad's family homestead. And so, her Dad was one of my most special uncles to me -just a sweetheart, he was. Ruth's granddaughter, Ally, who is a year older than my older grandson (meaning Ally is 15 and Alex is 14 now) has this same smile too though so it just gives me a great feeling to see that and think as long as they are around, so is my Uncle Arch -through them!

This is Bernie -Ruth's husband -and a great guy he is too! She definitely hit the jackpot when she found and married him! Bernie is a chef -actually he is a pastry chef instructor at a Culinary Institute in Austin and wow, can this man ever put out some really great dessert dishes!

And here we have my daughter, Mandy -along with Bernie -as we were getting ready to part company last evening.

Mandy and I were talking on the way home from dinner about -of course -family things and Ruth and Bernie and one thing we both thought of is that our dear late aunt -Aunt Mike, as she was known to all her nieces and nephews and other assorted family members -only had the opportunity to meet Bernie once I believe. Ruth, her daughter, son-in-law and their three children had driven up to the family homestead back in the summer of 2003 to visit Aunt Mike but I don't recollect that Bernie was with them on that visit. (That was the year that Ruth almost froze to death when she and Bernie had moved back to Pennsylvania for about 10 months or so, living in York, PA, and the first that she had lived in Pennsylvania and experienced "Winter" in many, many moons! She hated the cold, the snow, the ice, etc., and that summer when Bernie got a offer to teach at a place in Alabama, they jumped on that deal with both feet! (Can't say as I blame them either because, judging by the weather -the temps mainly -here today, I think I would actually give a lot of consideration to moving south too! I had to go outside today to walk the dog and I was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved turtleneck under a knitted crewneck sweater along with a wool blazer over that and very thick socks on my feet -along of course with my walking shoes -all that just so I could get my fingers to thaw out this afternoon. Yes, it was THAT cold here inside my house today and the temp this morning was a low of 32 degrees!)

But anyway, I digressed there -which is nothing unusual for me, as you all know, way too well. The thing was that our Aunt Mike had only ever met Bernie the one time during that year that Ruth and Bernie lived in York and that was when they came up home for Thanksgiving Dinner that year. Bernie had brought two fantastic desserts with them too -which had been quite well received by all present. And, Mandy and I were discussing the fact that Aunt Mike really had liked Bernie very much on that first meeting and we both agreed, had she had an opportunity to be around him a bit more, she really would have fallen completely for him as he fills the bill in that his build is that of the type of man Aunt Mike always had a soft spot for -Big BUILT men! Yep, Mandy and I figured that Bernie could definitely have given my older daughter's ex-husband a run for the money in that department as that former son-in-law -frequently referred to by all of us in the family as "Big Daddy" was one man that our late aunt definitely loved to pieces!

So anyway, I suppose because Ruth is here to attend her 50th class reunion event, the subject of class reunions has thus been on my mind a bit of late. Anyway, I talked to one of my "monthly lunch" friends this a.m. then about our next scheduled lunch -to be on Sept. 29th -and suggested to her that perhaps it would be a good idea if we girls invited a few of the men from our class to join us at that lunch and thus, get started doing a little prep and planning maybe for our own class reunion next year -which will be our 50th anniverary then too! Gad! Are we getting old or are we getting old? Anyway, Rose agreed with my idea, as did 2 other girls I then talked to and I went ahead and tried to make contact then with a couple of the guys from our class who live in this vicinity. And, as a result -so far -at least two of the guys (Ernie and Herb) said they'd love to join us! Joe initially said he would be there but then about five minutes after we hung up, he called me back to say he was wrong and that on the 28th of the month, he and his brother Phil were going out of town for a few days and wouldn't be back till the following Sunday so, as a result, he wouldn't be able to come after all. But he gave me instructions to "speak for him" there and get a place fairly close to the home front, reasonably priced but nice and one that serves alcohol too! No problem with that request Joe! I promise I'll try to do my best, just for you, old Buddy, old Pal!

A little bit of news today on the cookbook front and the status of that project is that today I received an e-mail from our customer service rep at the publisher's and she sent me the url to the proof of our recipes! I now have until Monday to go through all 586 recipes as shown on this proof to ascertain that the spelling is as near to correct as I can tell and any other errors that may show up on there, I get to notify the publisher by Monday to give them the corrections on that! Phew! Now there's a rush job if ever there was one. Right?

Since I am the one who had done all the typing of those recipes as well as the one who did all the initial verifications too of those recipes, I thought that perhaps I'd best try to find someone from our women's group to help with that work. But who to ask? Not very many of the women in our group have computers much less an online connection too so that didn't leave me many to approach for help. However I did find a lady who is a retired school school teacher and lo and behold, she agreed to help me! The problem here being for me to scan through these things, since I had done the typing/verifying, the odds of my catching other errors weren't in our favor that way but fresh eyes, now that would be a better way to edit and proof the stuff. Just really happy that Cathy had agreed to do this for me!

And finally -last but not least -I'm gonna leave you with this little story -about exploration, of a sort! Don't be offended by the words here but these are straight from the little horse's mouth! Just thought it would give everyone as big a chuckle as it gave to Mandy and to me!

A few weeks ago, Kurtis had to have a procedure -out-patient surgery -on his ears to remove a large ball of wax that was surrounding the tubes he's had in his ears for oh, about 3 years or more now. So since, then, she has to take a q-tip to his ears after every bath and this past Wednesday night, after bathing him, she had him sitting -naked -on the vanity while she proceeded to clean his ears with the q-tip.

As she was doing that, he was running his hands up and down his body -a pretty normal thing for any 5-year-old to do ya know -and at one point, he stopped as he got hold of a certain lower body part and at that time, he asked Mandy, "Is this my wienie?" She replied that yes, it is and then he says to her, "Well how come it looks like a mushroom then?"

Gotta love the things small children say and do, don't you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Little Gifts

What's on my mind today? Oh, lots of things, for sure but among them are things that make me really grateful for the little things in life that make me happy.

Okay -it's an old picture I came across this morning while searching for something else (and it's not the best photo ever taken either) but this little girl and her Grammie -Maya and me, in other words, taken over two years ago, is one of the things in my life that always brings a smile to my face -even if the picture isn't the best, Maya is the best granddaughter ever!  (Well, most of the time she's that.)

Mandy told me last night that she and Ken and both kids had taken Sammy for his later in the evening walk down the road and as they were venturing along, Kurtis began one of his spiels of rapid talking which generally also means a lot of jibberish that no one can figure out what it is he's trying to say then. After one of these vocal outbursts from him, Maya turned to him and said "Kurtis, will you please speak in ENGLISH!"

Two weeks into the school year and we started this week off on a not so great note Monday morning when Maya realized that she had a homework assignment given to her on Friday and which she hadn't done over the weekend. Her reaction to that resulted in a bit of drama before she left for school because that's a big no-no in her life to not have your homework completed and ready to turn in to the teacher. (Boy, how I hope and pray that attitude stays with her over the school years to come!) But then, Monday evening when she came home and sat down at the table to work on the homework assignments from that day, more drama arose as she realized she had inadvertently forgotten to put her homework assignment in her back pack. A little lecture followed that bit of information and a reminder that if she doesn't remember homework in the future she was going to be getting an "infraction" on her record for the school year. (The school district implemented this system/program of infractions the students would get for various issues and neglecting homework is one of 'em. Needless to say, she was more than a bit concerned to go to school yesterday a.m. and have to tell her teacher that two days in a row she didn't have her homework done but luckily for her, she didn't get an infraction for this neglect on her part.)

Although last week, we were happy -and very excited too -with the news that Kurtis is making a friend in school and has someone to share playground time with too but Monday evening was not all that pleasant here for him as Mandy also learned from Miss Dawn (his TSS) that he had several behavior issues that day. He'd been more than a tad mean and rude to Miss Dawn and also, his behavior in class had resulted in his clothespin being moved. Now, this is something I'm not sure about but apparently his teacher has a system wherein each student has a clothespin and I gather it's sort of a warning device to the kids. If they misbehave the clothespin will get moved and if it gets moved too far or something along those lines, in the wrong direction maybe -not totally sure on how this system of hers works -then they lose privileges. And he's comprehending enough about that so when his clothespin got moved on Monday, Miss Dawn said he had been really, really upset by that! That night, as he was going to bed, Mandy sat with him and talked to him about making good decisions and trying to be a good little boy at home and in school -all that kind of stuff, ya know. She said he was very tearful when she talked to him about the clothespin and being nicer to Miss Dawn. Hopefully, he will remember that chat and do the things expected of him in school. At least we know he understands a bit about empathy and how things we do and say can and will make others feel, so that's a good thing in my book.

Here's a picture of two of the little things in my life at a time when they were both practicing being nice to each other -which is one of the little things I really appreciate from them very much! They look so darned sweet and innocent here, don't they, which makes it really difficult then when they turn on each other! Ah, sibling rivalry at its best I guess that would be.

And here's Miss Maya with one of the nicest little things to come into my life -and our home -in a long time! That's her holding the newest addition to the family -Pearl the PurrBall Kitten! Pearl has to be the sweetest, most lovable kitten we've had in a long, long time. Mandy says Pearl's ways remind her very much of the great cat -Gracie -that we had here for over 16 years until she had to go over the Rainbow Bridge about 2 years ago now. Mandy found Pearl wandering around in the rain about 6 weeks or so ago, at the house a couple doors up the street from us. Seems the people who had been living in that house had just vacated the place and had left this kitten and a sibling to it behind. Pearl had fallen out of an open window in the house when Mandy found her and brought her home, telling me, "But Mom, you know I just couldn't go and leave this poor little baby out there in the cold rain. Just could NOT do that!" (She knew I wasn't that happy about adding another cat and especially not a female one too boot in the house, but she also knew too that once in the building, that cat would never be tossed out either!) So now, Pearl is definitely part of the family and frequently sleeps between Maya and me, along with Sammy, who usually prefers to sleep at the foot of our bed. Yeah, the menagerie continues to exist here, doesn't it?

The reason I was perusing through bunches of old pictures -when I came across these couple of pics -was because my intent was to locate a photo I thought I should have of a friend who lives up the street a ways from us of her house. She had put a picture up on facebook yesterday of her house but from the view of it, the house doesn't show up very well and I was sure I had, in my walks around town, take a photo of that house because it's one place that I've always thought was such a pretty little place. Well, I searched through all the photo files I have on the computer and didn't come across one of her house so guess I'm gonna have to walk in that direction some day soon and see if I can't remember then to get a picture of Sherri's house to post here!

Her home is one here in the village that has a bit of history with it as it was one of those "Sears-Robuck" homes that were available back in the day. You could order a house and it would be delivered to you to be put together then and they generally were of a very distinctive style. Her house also was known for years as being the "Doctor's House" too as back around the earliest days of the village, when the coal mines were in full swing, the coal company also had a "Company doctor" and he and his family got to live in this particular house. I don't remember it from those days but when I was a kid, the family who owned this place were among those few in town regarded as being a tad above everyone else with a better income and such a pretty little house too that they could call home. I always wanted to see the inside of this place but thus far, never have had a chance to do that although my friend Sherri -who just moved in there about a year or so ago now -told me to come up sometime and she'll show me through the place. I'm going to have to take her up on that offer now one of these days so then I can say I saw the inside of the "Doctor's House!"

Just another of those "little things" in life that interest me, ya know!